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Shopping for Automobiles: The Process is Changing

» Posted December 21, 2016Resources | Share This Post

Car buyers right now have a tough time getting treated fairly. Most people go to a dealer or buy through third parties, but the dealer or private seller in these transaction is not always upfront or honest. A myriad of consumer protection laws like the California lemon law exist to try to protect consumers from problems with cars, but consumers still face an uphill battle when it comes to getting a fair deal in the car buying process.

Nevertheless, seeking assistance from a knowledgeable Sacramento lemon law attorney could prove to be beneficial in the long run -- especially when it comes to avoiding purchasing a lemon vehicle.

The good news is, things could be changing for the better and the car buying process could evolve. Fortune reported recently on how millennials are changing the way in which people shop for cars. The changes are being described in very positive terms and the millennial generation might end up being the ones to put an end to the long history of corruption and problems in the car sales market.

How Millennials are Changing the Car Buying Process

For a very long time, the custom in the car buying industry involved back and forth negotiations on price with a car dealer. The process was an adversarial one, with consumers trying to pay as little as possible for the car and dealers doing everything they could to ring out every penny of profit. There was no pricing transparency and two different people could end up paying wildly different prices for the same vehicle simply based on who ended up being a better negotiator.

Consumers also faced significant disadvantages during the negotiation process, as they lack information on things like what the dealer paid or the true condition of the car.

Millennials, who have massive buying power and are used to easy online shopping, could usher in change.  More and more car dealers are now turning away from the haggling model and instead just selling cars at fixed prices. 

For example, Tesla has long been in the business of selling fixed price cars. General Motors dealers and Costco entered into an agreement last year to sell 465,000 cars at fixed prices, and both Subaru and Lexus have been experimenting with fixed price sales at various locations.

This trend is being driven by the fact that millennials do a lot of online research, sometimes visiting as many as 25 sites to learn about cars before setting foot in a dealership. The car buying process has been slow to move online, in part because of strict regulations in states throughout the U.S. that prohibit car makers from selling vehicles direct to consumers.

However, millennials are still using the Internet as a bigger part of the car-buying process than generations before them. They know what they want before arriving at car lots, so they aren't looking for a salesman but are seeking a consumer advocate.

Fixed pricing is not going to fix everything in the car marketplace.  There may still be vehicles with problems and defects and consumers may still need to take advantage of consumer protections like the Lemon Law.  There may also still be dishonest dealers who hide data about a car's true condition.

Still, at least a move towards fixed prices could eliminate one of the things that car shoppers hate the most and could level the playing field a bit more in the direction of consumers.


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